(Chinese New Year is celebrated for 15 days, until the new moon comes. So, here are some more info about the Chinese New Year. "Gong Hei Fat Choi", "Bo Bo Go Sing", "Sun Tai Geen Hong","Hok Yeep Jun Bo")
Firecrakers, lion dances, red envelopes, red clothing. What's going on? Chinese people all around the world are celebrating the New Year. No, they haven't confused their dates. The lunar calendar is based on the wax and the wane of the moon, with the arrival of the new moon signalling the first day of the month. This year, Chinese New Year lands on Febraurary 18 and celebrations continue for 15 days until the full moon appears.
WELCOME THE PIG
In the Chinese calendar, 2007 is the Year of the Pig. That does'nt mean the whole year is dedicated to eating pork or celebrating pigs. The pig us one of the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac, each representing a lunar year (rather than a month as used in the Western Zodiac). There are many stories about how the animals came to be chose, one of which has the Jade Emperor telling the rat to call all animals together for a banquet. On the big day, anxious to enjoy the promised spread of delicacies or driven by their competitive natures, teh animals arrived determined their place in the Chinese zodiac. The pig grew tired and decided to take a break and enjoy a mini feast of his own before continuing, only to find himself the 12th and last among the animals in the Chibese zodiac.
According to legend, the celebrations were not simply to celebrate the New Year. On New Year's Eve, a man-eating beast called Nian came out from hiding and attacked innocent victims. People used loud firecrackers and bright red objects to scare him away, then celebrated their victory. Those noisy celebrations are the originas of the Chinese New Year festivities, where firecrackers resound through busy streets and the color red is everywhere.(Fireworks are banned in Hongkong, but you'll see plenty of fake firecrackers). The phrase "guo Nian" in Mandarin literally means "passing of Nian" and is used to describe the whole Chinese New Year period.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Whether you miss them or not, Chinese New Year is a time for family reunions. It is a period of massive migration as people rush to join their families for the big New Year's feast. A;; the dishes are specially chosen to represent luck and wealth, and ensure the coming year will be a good one. Because its Chiense character is similar to that of "leftover", fish is always eaten to ensure there will be spare money in the coming year.
MAKING THE ROUNDS
On the first day of Chinese New Year, families visit their relatives to wish them a Happy New Year. There is a strict hierarchy within Chinese familiesm, which means you can't run first to a favorite uncle or best friend. Traditionally, families visit their relatives in order of seniority although with family members now living in different areas, it's common to schedule according to convenience.
During this period, it's important to greet everytone from close famly members to acquaintances. It's a period where blessings are given freely, so soak them up. Sometimes, tea ceremonies are conducted when visiting important family members. Usually a simple gesture of presenting a cup of tea with both hands. "Lai See", a red envelope containing money, is given in return as a gesture of thanks and good luck.
MONEY IN AN ENVELOPE
For children and single family members, receiving "lai see" is one of the highlights of Chinese New Year.Although the sim, isnt' supposed to matter, the amount of the money in the packet usually varies with the closeness of your relationship with the giver: the closer you are, the fatter the "lai see"It is given by married people to their unmarried relatives and friends - so until you tie the knot, you'll be receiving thise red envelopes of financial happiness during the Chinese New Year.
Historically, most Chinese people were poor peasants but New Year was the one time of the year when extravagant dishes were prepared to ensure plentiful year. Today, sweet condiments still flow freely to signify a sweet year ahead - so tuck in. But steer clear of meat. On the first day of the New Year, only vegetarian dishes should be eaten to ensure good karma throughout the year.
(Source:WHERE MAGAZINE/HONGKONG ISSUE)